Desert five-spot (Eremalche rotundifolia)

Picture Notes: I captured the pictures in (Figs. 01-03) during a 04/11/2010 visit to Death Valley National Park. These were captured at the entrance to the wash trail that led to the Natural Bridge Canyon.

Description: Desert five-spot (Eremalche rotundifolia), is an erect annual a.k.a. Falsemallow, Lantern Flower, Chinese Lantern, and Fivespot Mallow. (It may also be listed as Malvastrum rotundifolium in some publications.) It is one of the most beautiful flowers that grows in the desert. This annual plant grows between 3.5 inches to 2-feet tall, with heart-shaped, rounded leaves .5 to 2.25 inches broad with a toothed margin. The color of the leaves is green and often red with short, bristly hairs. Its flowers are rose-pink to lilac with five petals, each with a dark red spot at the base. These globes open during the top bloom March through May. Inside, the center is creamy with 5 deep, purple blotches surrounding many stamens. The 5 "spots" actually occur at the base of each petal. Flowers open in the afternoon and close at night. When light passes through the delicate petals of the flower, the globe resembles a glowing lantern. It is for this reason that the Desert Five-Spot is also known as the Lantern Flower and Chinese Lantern. It is native to the Mojave Desert in the southwestern United States, where it is found in open places, sandy and rocky areas, and in washes between 150 feet to 4,700 feet in elevation. It grows in the deserts of southern California, Nevada, Arizona, and northern Mexico. The best specimens of this flower are likely to be found where there is an abundance of black lava rock. It if often found in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and in Death Valley National Park in southern California.

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